While filming a cable car loading up and leaving Powell and Market, we encountered a deranged “preacher” screaming obscenities at the crowd of tourists waiting in line. A police officer just stood there and laughed at him. Welcome to San Francisco!
Eastward view up Hyde Street, from the Hyde Street Pier adjacent to Fishermans Wharf. Last stop when you ride the cable car from Powell and Market.
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Muni & Cable Car 7-day Passport CityPASS ticket includes unlimited transportation on Muni for 7 consecutive days beginning the day of first CityPASS use. Without CityPASS, a single one-way Cable Car ride costs $7 (Muni bus and streetcars: $2.25).
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Well-narrated video covering the entire cable car ride from Powell and Market Streets past Union Square and up over Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and down to Fisherman’s Wharf.
The cable cars are undoubtedly the most popular and iconic tourist attraction in San Francisco (in addition to the Golden Gate Bridge, of course). Even if you have a disdain for “doing the touristy things”, a cable car ride is an absolute must-do; it’s a fun ride and the scenery along the way looking down the side streets from the hills is fantastic.
Cable car number 23 being turned around (as you can see, the conductors/gripmen do this manually on a turntable) and preparing to pick up the next load of outbound passengers from Powell Street.
There are three different cable car lines: Powell/Hyde and Powell/Mason, which both run from the end of Powell Street at Market street and terminate in the Fisherman’s Wharf district, and the California Street line which runs from Drumm Street in the financial district to Van Ness Avenue. The two Powell lines are the most popular and centrally located for tourists. The California line is the shortest of the three lines and is also the one that was featured in the famous Rice-A-Roni commercials.
While waiting in line on Powell Street, you will be approached by one of many panhandlers who will give you a “tip in exchange for a tip”. That tip is that you can avoid waiting in line by going two blocks up the road to the corner of Geary Street, where you can simply hop onto the next outgoing car – the conductors usually make sure the cars do not completely fill up before departing, so as to leave room for other riders who want to hop on along the way. But if you are determined to get a spot on one of the open-air seats or outer standee platforms, our tip is to simply wait in the long line anyway; when it comes your turn to board, if the good seats get taken before you get a chance to hop on, just stand back and let the other anxious riders behind you pile on and go… this way you will be at the head of the line for the next outgoing car, and you can choose whichever seat or platform you want.
Cable car 25 on the Powell and Mason line, crossing O’Farrell Street and going up Powell Street toward Nob Hill.
TIP: Before getting in line for your cable car ride, go to the SFMTA ticket booth on Market Street – it’s just a few feet down from the cable car turnaround, above the BART entrance – and get a day pass for $17 (3-day and 7-day visitor passes are also available). If you are going to do at least one round trip on the cable cars during your stay, as well as a bus or street rail car trip across town, you will get more than your money’s worth by getting a pass, as the cable car fare is $7.00 each way and the bus/rail fare is $2.25. The visitor pass allows unlimited use of the buses, cable cars, and rail streetcars. More information on fares and passes here: https://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/transit/fares-passes, or order the San Francisco CityPass online; this also includes admission to several of San Francisco’s top attractions.
TIP #2: If you want to stop to see Lombard Street a.k.a. “The Crookedest Street in The World” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lombard_Street_%28San_Francisco%29, be sure to get on the Powell/Hyde line.